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Transparency in payments price

Transparency in payments price

first_imgThe importance of the flow of capital into the power and housing sectors in India cannot be overemphasised. Recent developments in both sectors once again bring to the fore the critical issues of effective payment mechanisms and price transparency as vital factors in boosting the economy. Let us examine the issue in the two sectors separately. The Supreme Court striking down the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) circular giving stressed power companies more time to find resolutions outside the bankruptcy court has started debates around paths that are ideal for resolving woes of the power sector. Amid the din and noise, it is essential to not lose sight of the core issues at hand, i.e., the late and, in many cases, non-payment of dues by state-run power distribution companies (discoms) in India. Also Read – A special kind of bondWhile not all the stressed assets of thermal power sector are attributable to non-payment issues from discoms, delayed payments are significant contributors to the mess. Late payments lead to debt servicing issues and major negative-working capital problems. The most critical aspect of the problem is that not just thermal power sector assets but energy sector assets in general, including the high-growth renewable energy sector, will face identical or similar issues in the foreseeable future unless the delayed payments issue is gradually sorted out. Also Read – Insider threat managementFor instance, in the solar energy sector, which is known for its high capital intensity with the majority of the capital expenditure required upfront, the entire business model is highly dependent on the power purchase agreement (PPA) being honoured. Given the fixed-income nature of payments, it is only natural that debt is utilised to fund a significant component of the business. Delays in payments from discoms will lead to solar energy developers facing debt-servicing issues and therefore, eventually adding to the non-performing assets (NPAs). The issues around debt-servicing and NPAs has serious ramifications from a cost of capital perspective. An improved payment mechanism, timely payment of interest coupons and lower-risk have the cascading positive effect of the lower cost of capital for any given sector. Hence, as the cost of capital in general declines, energy projects with a lower return on asset become viable. Therefore, a lowering of the cost of capital in the energy sector provides a significant boost to asset creation. The reverse holds true: when risk perceptions amongst investors for a sector rise, they reduce the flow of capital to the sector and thus render projects unviable. Resolving issues around discom payments is critical for India’s push towards renewable energy. While solutions will require some hard decisions to be made, the government must push in the right direction. Most importantly, the new sunrise sectors such as renewable energy must learn lessons from the thermal power sector of avoiding payment delays, excessive leverage and unsustainable tariffs. Issues in the thermal power sector provide a template of the pitfalls to avoid in energy sectors across the spectrum. The second sector of our concern here that has seen interesting developments of late is housing finance. Given the recent liquidity crunch faced by the Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs), the news that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has set up a panel to review the development of the housing finance securitisation market is a welcome step. The broader aim of the panel is to facilitate the flow of high-quality capital to the NBFC sector to boost credit creation in India. Of all the steps towards the standardisation of the housing finance securitisation market, one that deserves most attention is ensuring a mechanism that allows for mark-to-market valuation of the securitised loans. In the long-run for the housing finance securitisation market to indeed facilitate the flow of sizeable quantities of capital and yet avoid major mishaps during periods of credit busts, access to constant pricing information in the market is vital. Standardisation of the pricing of debt-securities can be more challenging than that for equity-based securities. The difficulty arises from the fact that debt-based instruments are issued for multiple tenures as opposed to equity that does not have a maturity date. Hence, standardisation is harder in the case of debt-instruments. Lessons from credit markets in the developed economies in creating credit-based indices that assist the market in pricing loans in the secondary market are crucial. Going forward we must not lose focus on the core issues of “ensuring payment mechanisms” and “price transparency” to boost investor sentiment regarding the crucial power and housing markets in India. (The author heads Development Tracks, an infrastructure advisory firm. The views are strictly personal)last_img read more

Importance of broad financing for sustainable forest management highlighted at UN forum

Importance of broad financing for sustainable forest management highlighted at UN forum

“By far the greatest source of forest financing has been – and will continue to be – from commercial private sector investments in sustainable forest management,” Manoel Sobral Filho, the Director of the UN Forum on Forests secretariat, said in a briefing on the importance of diversifying resources. In the UN Strategic Plan for Forests, agreed earlier this year, UN Member States stressed the importance of partnerships of philanthropic organizations, foundations, as well as public-private and other multi-stakeholder entities in scaling up resources for sustainable forest management and as well as the plan’s own implementation. The Strategic Plan also provides a framework for forest-related contributions to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Paris Agreement on climate change and a number of other international instruments, commitments and goals. In addition to these direct links, importance of ensuring sustainable forest management was also recognized in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda – one of the key constituents of the 2030 Agenda – given the importance of forests for efforts to combat hunger and malnutrition as well as for its larger environmental benefits. In his briefing today, Mr. Filho further informed the meeting of funding received from resources allocated for sustainable forest management initiatives, as well as the activities of the Global Forest Financing Facilitation Network, one of the five main components of the post-2015 International Arrangement on Forests. Some key functions of the Network include mobilizing and supporting new and additional financial resources, and promoting effective use of existing financial resources for sustainable forest management. The briefing was followed by a panel discussion that was attended, among others, by officials from the Ford Foundation and the World Bank. Penny Davies, Programme Officer for Equitable Development, Ford Foundation, said the organization planned to disburse $1 billion over the next 10 years into private funds promoting “social and environmental justice” activities, she described two specific streams of forest-related investment financing: first, sustainable agriculture that did not clear natural forests and included some protection of forests; and second, sustainable forest management and community-based forest management.“However, we are finding it difficult to place [that financing],” she said, due to a number of constraints that made those investments too difficult to justify, including: “incoherent spatial mapping” and uncertain land tenure, where investments could be contested by several parties; conflict, which could cause delays in the Foundation’s projects or cause the withdrawal of its partners; and the fact that the Ford Foundation’s private finance is insufficient in the face of government subsidies to unsustainable forest and agricultural management, that incentivizes forest clearance.The UN Forum on Forests (UNFF) is a high-level intergovernmental policy forum that includes UN Member States, Permanent Observers as well as regional organizations and groups. Its current (twelfth) session concludes tomorrow, 5 May. read more

Energy Technologies Institute ETI

Energy Technologies Institute ETI

Presentation given by John Baterbee, Programme Manager – Transport, ETI“Plugging-in Ultra Low Carbon Vehicles: Accelerating market growth for plug-in vehicles by enabling effective collaboration”< BackClick to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)

Michigans Lineup Was Gutted How Much Will It Matter

Michigans Lineup Was Gutted How Much Will It Matter

Jim Harbaugh has restored Michigan’s place in the upper ranks of the college-football hierarchy with two straight 10-win seasons. As the team kicks off its 2017 campaign on Saturday against the 17th-ranked Florida Gators in Arlington, Texas, the Wolverines will bring a new sense of optimism and Harbaugh-infused intensity. There’s one thing they won’t bring, though: Many of last year’s players.Michigan, which is ranked 11th to start the season, is perhaps the hardest team in college football to get a read on — and not just because Harbaugh refused to release his team’s official roster until Wednesday. The team was one of the best in the nation last season but sustained heavy personnel losses in the offseason, saying goodbye to seven starters on offense and a staggering 10 on defense. According to college football information guru Phil Steele’s team experience rankings, Michigan ranks 127th out of 130 teams this year. As you might expect, teams who lose numerous starters tend to take a step back the following season — no matter how good the incoming recruits are.With only five starters coming back, Michigan is returning less of its lineup than any other team in the country. And indeed, among Power Five schools since 2001, only Arkansas in 20041Which returned only four starters. brought back a less experienced lineup than the Wolverines, according to data we obtained from Steele. It’s no coincidence that those Razorbacks finished with a losing record after winning nine games the year before, because there’s a pretty clear relationship between how much talent returns to a team and how well it does that season. Using Steele’s data,2Including seasons going back to 2008, when information on returning quarterbacks is complete. I ran a regression and found that every additional starter lost on offense shaves about one-fifth of a win off of a team’s record3Per 12 games, against a neutral schedule. — and that’s if none of those starters played quarterback. Losing a starting QB costs a team about three-fifths of a win per season.Here’s how the number of starters lost would be expected to affect an average FBS team (according to ESPN’s team efficiency ratings, which grade a team on each side of the ball on a 0 to 100 scale, with 50 as average): Michigan’s defense carried an 87.4 rating last season, third-best in the FBS, but my model predicts that they’ll drop to 62.8 — basically the same as last year’s Texas A&M and Penn State outfits — after turning over nearly the entire starting corps. (Only linebacker Mike McCray is back from last year’s starting lineup on D.) Even accounting for the fact that the typical defense loses about 4.5 starters per season, the Wolverines figure to be down 0.9 more wins than average because of their many defensive departures.Add it up, and Michigan’s inexperience has unquestionably caused it to lose ground relative to the rest of the country.But fear not, Ann Arbor. This doesn’t mean that Michigan will immediately plummet back to the depths it reached under Rich Rodriguez and Brady Hoke after briefly coming up for air with Harbaugh. The Wolverines have some important factors working in their favor, according to the model.Although losing a bunch of players hurts, the single most damaging starter a team can wave goodbye to is its starting quarterback — and Michigan’s incumbent QB, Wilton Speight, is still around this season. (He may not start, but even that might be a positive sign if Harbaugh has another QB on hand that he believes is as good as a returning starter.) Returning a QB can boost a team’s offensive efficiency rating by about 8 points, which is enough to offset the loss of about 3.5 non-QB starters by itself.Another important factor is playing in a Power Five conference. Because a top conference such as the Big Ten perennially dominates the recruiting rolls, its schools always have a deep talent base, which in turn makes them much better equipped than smaller programs to weather a mass exodus of players. When I combined efficiency ratings on both sides of the ball, I found that a Power Five team can expect to win about one more game (against a neutral schedule) than a school not in a Power Five conference, even after controlling for starters lost. Considering how good Michigan’s recruiting has been under Harbaugh, the Wolverines’ next crop of starters should help them survive the loss of the previous one.And, finally, there’s Harbaugh himself. According to my model, teams that bring back a head coach tend to gain nearly a half-win on teams that break in a new one, after controlling for all of the other factors mentioned. Continuity is huge in a sport like college football, in which the status quo reigns supreme — as long as nothing upsets the apple cart too much. Having a consistent system can help player development, for instance, as recruits have the benefit of learning the playbook over the course of multiple seasons. And Harbaugh has to rank among the better coaches in the sport today, having turned around Stanford and Michigan from a combined 6-18 record in the seasons before he arrived to a combined 22-4 in his most recent campaigns with each school. (Not to mention bringing the San Francisco 49ers one first-and-goal touchdown away from a Vince Lombardi trophy.)Harbaugh is a bit of an, um, eccentric coach, and — including his stint in the NFL — he has a tendency to burn his teams out after several seasons of rapid improvement. But for now, he still has Michigan in the ascending phase. In other words, the odds are still high that the Wolverines take a step backward this season, but the drop might not be as steep as it could have been. For a team like Michigan, which notched a (well-above-average) offensive rating of 73.7 last season, the loss of seven offensive starters projects to drop their offensive rating to 63.0 — only about as good as Mississippi State or Colorado State was last season and 7.2 points lower than it would have been if Michigan had the FBS’s average number of non-quarterback starters coming back.4In 2017, that average number is 6.1.That alone would figure to cost the Wolverines a half-win this season relative to average, but the losses on defense could be even more damaging. In Steele’s data set, only one other Power Five team — the 2010 Minnesota Gophers — lost 10 of 11 defensive starters between seasons, and that team’s defensive rating dropped from 58.9 to 22.2. Not every team with defensive losses sees quite so steep a drop-off, but here’s how the number of departing starters tends to affect a defense: read more

Fishing may be cruel even if you throw your catch back in

Fishing may be cruel even if you throw your catch back in

Fishing may be cruel even if the fish are thrown back in the water, because they subsequently struggle to feed, according to a new study.“Catch-and-release” policies have become the norm on many British rivers and lakes in recent years, considered a more human method and vital for conserving stocks.But scientists now believe that hooking fish such as salmon and trout injures their mouths so that they become less able to suck in prey.In the first study of its kind, researchers monitored 20 shiner perch caught from the wild in Canada.Half had been hooked and half caught in a net.When they were observed using high-speed cameras in a controlled environment, those that had been hooked fed significantly less well.The scientists at University of California Riverside believe this is because the hole caused by the hook disrupts the suction system, which works similar to how humans suck fluids through as straw.”As we predicted, the fish with the mouth injuries exhibited a reduction in the speed at which they were able to draw prey into their mouths,” said Professor Tim Higham, who led the research.”This was the case even though we used barbless hooks, which are less damaging than barbed hooks. “Although we don’t yet know how or if this reduction in feeding performance would affect fitness and survivability in nature, we can say that fishing-induced injuries impact the fish’s ability to feed while the mouth is healing.”This study emphasises that catch-and-release is not as simple as removing the hook and all being well, but rather is a complex process that should be studied in more detail.”However, a spokesman for the Angling Trust said: “The report clearly states that further research is required to assess whether or not there is any impact on fish populations as a result of catch and release angling, and studies would also be required on other species.”Anglers takes great care of the fish they catch and have the biggest stake in thriving populations.”The new research is published in the Journal of Experimental Biology. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. read more

Govt pawning our futures with its failed approach to economics Opposition

Govt pawning our futures with its failed approach to economics Opposition

Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)RelatedGovt’s intent to borrow $220B to manage economy “shocking”- JagdeoApril 7, 2018In “Business”The debt ceiling was surreptitiously altered- JagdeoMay 16, 2018In “Business”Low already, Guyana’s foreign currency reserves will deplete further with $30B bond- JagdeoJuly 26, 2018In “Business” With Government having moved towards obtaining a $30B loan from several commercial banks, and hinting about a US$900M loan from the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) being up for grabs, Leader of the Opposition, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo is of the opinion that not only are they [Government] “pawning our futures” but they’re leaving Guyanese with a massive debt.Opposition Leader, Dr Bharrat JagdeoJagdeo said during a press conference at his Office on Thursday that the issue is if the incumbent Administration borrows the US$900M on top of the $30B already being sought then “they’re leaving us, whoever gets into office and we hope it’s us in the near future… and future generations of Guyanese with a burden that will be heavy to carry… This is pawning our future. They are destroying the current opportunities of our people and livelihood.”It was disclosed that the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited’s (NICIL) Special Purpose Unit (SPU) obtained $30 billion, via a syndicated bond to support the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) as its remaining estates.The funding is expected to cover a four-year period and will provide capital, support infrastructure maintenance and upgrades at Albion, Blairmont and Uitvlugt. The funds are also expected to go towards developing new co-generation capacity for the estate operations and the national electric grid.Additionally, last week, Finance Minister, Winston Jordan clarified that “Guyana has not received any loans from the Islamic Development Bank,” however “the IsDB has a resource envelope of US$900M that is potentially available from which the Government of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana can borrow.”To this, Jagdeo posited that this Coalition Administration must come clean “Are they going to borrow the money or no? Clearly there is an intention to borrow,” he said.He asserted that if the US$900M loan is pursued, the APNU-AFC Government would have accumulated a significant debt, which he said is equivalent to the amount of debt GuySuCo was in from to the start to end of the 23 years of PPP’s reign.Jagdeo, an economist by profession, also expressed grave concern on behalf of his party, with regards to the $30B loan which has already been obtained.“… the $30B that the SPU wants to raise on a bond now [they will be] pledging or pawning all the assets of NICIL…[The] interest rate is above the Grant element above which we use to borrow.The grant element that you calculate for Government loans and the grant element takes into consideration the moratorium on interest payments, the length of the loan and the nominal interest rate and I’m sure if you calculate the grant element, it falls outside of the traditional borrowing policy of the Government, but this is backed up by a set of assets that if they fail to pay the loans, we lose the entire GuySuCo, all the factories and everything else and all other holdings of NICIL will go to Republic Bank and the consortium.”Moreover, Jagdeo asserted that at the rate the country is going, Government’s “failed approach to economics” is going have adverse impacts on the International Monetary Fund’s predictions on Guyana’s GDP.“The IMF ratio [had said] that the GDP will go up slightly until we find oil and then it’ll come down and it will go to 59% of GDP…If the economy remains stagnant, we’re going to be defying the IMF predictions by a huge margin because the stock of debt to GDP will go up to 100% again…Even the IMF forecast didn’t expect this massive set of borrowing,” he said. (Ramona Luthi) read more

Making the case for improved fatigue management

Making the case for improved fatigue management

first_imgKate du Preez, Commissioner for Mine Safety and Health in Queensland, Australia, notes that fatigue has long been recognised as a hazard in the mining industry. Long shifts and extended working periods in remote locations can be exhausting and with a general trend towards longer on-shift rotations, fatigue management remains a prominent issue in mine safety and health discussions.She said that despite this wide recognition of the dangers of fatigue, incidents are still occurring. “In the past 12 months, there have been at least two tragic road accidents involving mine workers who have been killed while driving home from a rotation,” she said.“In fact, driving home from work is potentially the most dangerous part of the job for mine workers. So, with that in mind, I was quite alarmed by an article in the Mackay Daily Mercury recently which reported that almost half of the 200 attendees at the 2018 Resource Industry Network Safety Conference admitted to experiencing ‘microsleeps’ while driving.“Think about that for a moment. Almost half of the attendees at a conference primarily attended by leaders in the mining industry had experienced a potentially deadly microsleep while driving.“That number is particularly concerning because there are specific measures in place to mitigate the risks posed by worker fatigue.”The Guidance Note for Fatigue Risk Management (issued in 2013 and revised in 2015) was developed as a result of a number of recommendations from the Coroners Court of Queensland, and considered by both mining safety and health advisory committees, related to the deaths of mine workers from fatigue-related car accidents.The guidance note outlines the various considerations for mines to effectively manage fatigue and provides mine operators and mine workers with a comprehensive overview of the factors that contribute to workplace fatigue and how they can be controlled.“Our duty of care to workers does not stop when people clock off at the end of a shift,” du Preez said.“One of my priorities for 2018–19 is to hold a series of workshops with the coal mining and the mining and quarrying safety and health advisory committees to examine current practices in the industry and to share information and data available in relation to fatigue, and to find possible solutions to enhance fatigue management.“These workshops will provide an opportunity to examine the causes of these incidents and further explore strategies that we can implement to minimise the risk to workers.”The first workshop is scheduled to be held in July 2018.last_img read more

Bus Éireann warns bring in pay cuts or we could end up

Bus Éireann warns bring in pay cuts or we could end up

first_imgBUS ÉIREANN HAS warned that a controversial cost-cutting plan at the company need to be implemented as soon as possible or the company is ‘highly likely’ to end up breaking the law.Unions at the company have rejected the proposed changes to pay and conditions, but Bus Éireann said tonight if it does not implement the new plan, it is ‘highly likely’ to breach company law within one month because of its ‘precariously low level of net assets’.The new financial proposals were set out in a recent Labour Court recommendation aimed at resolving the ongoing dispute at the company as management battle to cut costs but workers fight against cuts to their pay.The company said it may be required to call an Extraordinary General Meeting to deal with the situation if it isn’t allowed to cut pay.“The likely need to call an EGM is a further demonstration that the future of Bus Éireann is clearly at risk,” said a spokesperson.The company has said it. The Labour Court has said it. The trade unions’ own independent financial assessors have said it. The payroll savings from the Labour Court recommendation are vital to Bus Éireann’s survival.The Labour Court recommended a range of measures to save around €5 million from the payroll . The company says it plans to implement the changes from this Sunday. If it doesn’t bring in the changes, Bus Éireann says it faces annual losses of more than €11 million, which it says are not sustainable.Unions have said they will take industrial action from this Sunday if the changes to pay and conditions go ahead. When strikes were threatened in January, Bus Éireann warned employees that their jobs could be at risk if they took industrial action.Among the changes recommended by the Labour Court are:An increase in the working week for clerical and executive staff from 36 hours to 39 hoursReduction in premium payments (such as Sunday payments) to be x1.5 payments rather than double paymentsReduction in annual leave entitlement by 3 days for the next three yearsReduction in allowances and expense payments by 20 per centBus Éireann said its low level of assets means any more losses from not bringing in the payroll savings set out in the Labour Court recommendation means it could breach Section 40 of the Companies (Amendment) Act 1983.This means that shareholder funds no longer exceed 50 per cent of the called-up share capital, requiring the company to hold an Extraordinary General Meeting to deal with the situation.Read: Bus Éireann, unions to appear before Labour Relations Commission >last_img read more

TDK puts an SSD on a 17mm chip

TDK puts an SSD on a 17mm chip

first_imgSSDs typically consist of a number of NAND flash chips on a board along with a controller chip and SATA connector for use in a 2.5-inch bay. That may be sufficient for consumers and most business sectors, but there’s still a need for fast and reliable storage in embedded devices and where physical space is at a premium.TDK has developed a new SSD to fill that need called the eSSD. It manages to fit the NAND flash, controller chip, and 3Gbps SATA interface on to a single piece of silicon that measures just 17 x 17mm.By managing to combine the different components on to a single chip, TDK not only saves on space, but also cuts manufacturing costs considerably. The eSSD is limited to just 4GB of storage, but that should be ample for the types of devices it will be used with. Read and write speeds are also quite limited at 55MBps and 30MBps respectively, and rewrites are limited to 50,000.TDK see the eSSD being used in industrial equipment and commercial devices such as printers, projectors, karaoke machines, and arcade games. In all cases, the low storage and read/write performance won’t be an issue due to the tasks being carried out by the chip.TDK is set to start shipping the eSSD in April, but I can’t help feel the product has already been outdone by Foremay’s SSD on a chip. It launched late last year and offers up to 64GB of storage on a 22 x 22 x 1.8mm chip. Its read and write speeds are 70MBps and 40MBps respectively.The one advantage TDK has over Foremay faster, higher storage chip  is cost. Foremay’s SSD only ships in 32GB and 64GB versions. Shipping a 1-4GB eSSD is going to be much cheaper, and if your customers are purchasing for a system that fits within that storage limit the choice of which to pick should be an easy one.More at TDK, via Tech-On!last_img read more

Poll Would you welcome the Popes visit to Ireland

Poll Would you welcome the Popes visit to Ireland

first_img Nov 24th 2016, 8:39 AM POPE FRANCIS IS considering a visit to Ireland, after an invitation from Irish Catholic bishops.Taoiseach Enda Kenny is set to meet the Pope at the Vatican next week and he said he will pledge “government support” for such a visit. Pope John Paul II’s 1979 trip to Ireland was the first ever papal visit to the country and over 2.5 million people attended events while he was here.So, we want to know: Would you welcome the Pope’s visit to Ireland? Tweet thisShare on FacebookEmail this article Image: AP/Press Association Images Image: AP/Press Association Images I’m not sure (1455) 199 Comments Thursday 24 Nov 2016, 8:39 AM No (5596) YesNoI’m not sureVotecenter_img Poll: Would you welcome the Pope’s visit to Ireland? The Taoiseach will meet the Pope at the Vatican next week and said he will express government support for a visit. Share35 Tweet Email Poll Results: http://jrnl.ie/3099038 By Michelle Hennessy Short URL 27,247 Views Yes (10369)last_img read more

Ambrose vs Cesaro headlines tonights 1031 Smackdown

Ambrose vs Cesaro headlines tonights 1031 Smackdown

first_img Adam Martin RELATED ARTICLESMORE FROM AUTHOR WWE announces King of the Ring Tournament Matches for Monday Night RAW WWE RAW Results – 8/19/19 (King of the Ring Tournament begins, United States Title match) Pinterest The following is scheduled for tonight’s Halloween edition of WWE Smackdown on Syfy.* Divas Halloween Costume Battle Royal.* WWE Intercontinental Champion Dolph Ziggler vs. Kane (non-title match).* WWE Intercontinental Champion Dolph Ziggler vs. Seth Rollins (non-title match).* Ryback vs. Heath Slater.* Miz TV featuring special guest Mark Henry.* WWE Tag Team Champions Goldust and Stardust vs. Los Matadores.* Rusev vs. The Great Khali.* Dean Ambrose vs. Cesaro (Trick or Street Fight match).Check back later tonight for a detailed recap of Smackdown here on Wrestleview.com. Twittercenter_img WhatsApp Cesaro announces that he will make an appearance at NXT UK TakeOver: Cardiff Facebook Google+last_img read more

89 use salary sacrifice to buy technology they could not afford outright

89 use salary sacrifice to buy technology they could not afford outright

first_imgAlmost nine in 10 (89%) respondents who have purchased a technology product through a salary sacrifice scheme would not have bought the product elsewhere because they could not afford to buy the item outright, according to research by Let’s Connect, part of Personal Group.Its survey of 1,100 employees who have participated in a home technology salary sacrifice scheme, also found that 87% of respondents take part in the scheme because it is paid directly from salary.Chancellor Philip Hammond confirmed that the range of benefits that attract tax advantages when delivered via a salary sacrifice arrangement would be limited in his Autumn Statement 2016. This excludes pensions, employer-provided childcare and childcare vouchers, bikes-for-work schemes, and ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVS).Any schemes entered into before April 2017 are protected up to April 2018, and company cars, school fees and living accommodation schemes are protected up to April 2021. The changes were legislated for through the Finance Bill 2017.The research also found:72% of respondents take part in a home technology salary sacrifice scheme because it helps to spread the cost of major purchases, and 25% participate in these arrangements in order to save money on high street prices.64% of respondents use salary sacrifice arrangements to purchase iPads and tablets, 56% opt to buy laptops, 37% invest in a home entertainment system, and 18% buy smartphones.83% of respondents state that they would participate in a salary sacrifice scheme again in order to purchase home technology products.55% of respondents purchased a technology product via a salary sacrifice arrangement for education purposes, 19% bought their technology item to use while travelling, 52% used a salary sacrifice scheme to buy a technology product in order to use the internet, and 22% invested in technology for digital media and online gaming purposes.70% of respondents believe that the technology product purchased through a salary sacrifice scheme has helped them or their family improve their IT skills.Steve Prevett, UK sales and marketing director at Let’s Connect, said: “Salary sacrifice remains an effective way for employers to reward their employees’ contribution and for employees to advance their own skills. Despite recent legislation changes, salary sacrifice schemes remain as popular with both employees and employers alike, particularly amongst millennials and generation Z. We are pleased that the government, after months of uncertainty [has] clarified their position and through the new legislation, continue to support salary sacrifice.“Technology has become a fundamental part of everyday life but there is still a significant digital skills gap in the UK, we are currently lagging behind many of our European counterparts and rank only as the 16th most productive country in Europe. Salary sacrifice schemes have the potential to increase productivity through digital upskilling, increased education and improved wellbeing.”last_img read more

Juneau Hidden History docufollow reality TV show premieres this week

Juneau Hidden History docufollow reality TV show premieres this week

first_imgGreg Taylor, Joe McCabe, Adam DiPietro, Kat, and Brian Weed of “Alaska Treasure Hunters.” (Courtesy Alaska Treasure Hunters)Yet another Alaska reality TV show debuts this week. But unlike dozens of previous shows featuring inept gold miners, snowmachine chases of drunken criminals or former governors trying to stretch out their 15 minutes of fame, the latest show promises to put the real back into reality TV. It could even be educational.Listen nowThe new show features faces that may be familiar to Juneau viewers.The program “Alaska Treasure Hunters” features four Juneau men as they explore and search for long-forgotten historic sites.The program has been well over a year in development and production.It was inspired by the popular Juneau Hidden History Facebook page that Joe McCabe and Brian Weed started five years ago.“To bring it to TV and actually show these things, it’s kind of Alaska’s treasures,” Weed said. “It’s a part of Alaska history that a lot of people don’t realize is still there.”Weed said he rejected previous offers for a reality show because potential producers wanted to focus on the usual reality TV nonsense.“‘We want to make sure there is a lot of drama in your group to show that this is something people want to watch,’” Weed said of one of the show pitches. “And then we get the questions like ‘Do you believe in ghosts?’, ‘Have you seen aliens?’ Just off-the-wall questions.”“A couple times I hung up on them where I was like I want nothing to do with this kind of show because there’s plenty of those shows that make Alaska look bad,” Weed said.Greg Taylor waits for a boat ride. (Courtesy Alaska Treasure Hunters)Weed, who serves as the historian for the group, said it’s not really a reality show. Instead, he calls it a “docu-follow.”The places and historic events are real.The dialogue is not scripted ahead of time, and there is no manufactured drama among the cast.“I’m a retired rock climber, retired Juneau mountain rescue guy,” McCabe, the group’s safety officer, said. “I bring some mountain experience, a lot of rock experience and rescue stuff.”Greg Taylor is the jack-of-all-trades outdoor survival expert who keeps the group headed in the right direction.“I kept us from getting lost even though we knew where we were going to begin with,” Taylor said. “I keep track of the GPS and coordinates.”Adam DiPietro is a mountaineer with a background in geology and engineering.“Brian knows roughly how old the mine is based on the history of it, the logs and what you can find in the archives,” DiPietro said. “But I can take it and I can measure how much rust has actually occurred, how much oxidation and back-calculate to figure out – based on the rate of rusting – how old the object is. There’s two different schools of thought to figure out how old something is.”Brian Weed and Kat in a packraft. (Courtesy Alaska Treasure Hunters)A fifth cast member, who was unavailable for an interview, is the group’s scout and bear guard, Weed’s dog named Kat.The pilot episode features a search for the lost Rocker Mine, which undercuts the popular myth of Joe Juneau and Richard Harris as the first white men who discovered gold in the Juneau area in 1880.According to the group, gold was actually discovered 13 years earlier by a man named Fred Culver.“He died before he could come back and really stake a claim and actually get super rich,” Weed said. “This is us looking for Culver’s mine based on all the data, facts, journals that we can get a hold of. We’re tracing back to the — hopefully — location of the lost Rocker Mine.”“It was nice,” McCabe said. “We did some interviews with a lot of local folks here to help us out. It was a pretty cool process.”“Some epic adventures, too,” DiPietro said.Weed says there also were some items — not shown in the program — they discovered from Culver’s period that could not have been left by Juneau and Harris.It’s only a pilot program. Whether or not it becomes a regular series depends on this week’s ratings and social media response.Weed said the show’s not just about exploring old mines in the Juneau area.If the show gets picked up as a regular series, then they plan on traveling around Alaska exploring old military installations such as World War II internment camps and old Nike missile defense bases, ghost towns, old Native village sites and petroglyphs, Southeast Alaska fox farms, shipwrecks and plane crashes and abandoned gold dredges and trains.“Alaska Treasure Hunters” airs 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. Wednesday on the Travel Channel and then repeats 10 a.m. Sunday. It’ll also be available on the Travel Channel website and Hulu.See the Forum@360 about Juneau Hidden History that aired in July 2016:last_img read more

Modis BJP wins Gujarat and Himachal polls

Modis BJP wins Gujarat and Himachal polls

first_imgIndian Prime Minister and head of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Narendra Modi gestures at the start of a speech at the party headquarters in New Delhi on December 18, 2017. AFPIndia’s ruling party Monday celebrated victory in two state elections, but saw its majority dip in prime minister Narendra Modi’s stronghold of Gujarat, where the charismatic leader campaigned aggressively in a closely-fought race.The wins in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh further cemented Modi’s dominance, with his Hindu nationalist party now ruling in roughly two-thirds of India’s states ahead of a general election slated for 2019.Modi, draped in a garland of flowers, thanked voters in Gujarat-his home state of 60 million people-for backing the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to a sixth consecutive term.“The Gujarat election results are historic. In this day and age, for a party to keep winning for so long is unprecedented,” he told cheering supporters at the BJP headquarters in New Delhi.India’s election commission said the party won 99 seats in the 182-seat Gujarat parliament, more than the majority mark of 92 needed to form a government.But it lost 16 seats compared to the 2012 polls.The party also wrested control of the northern Himalayan state of Himachal Pradesh from the main opposition Congress party, winning 44 out of 68 seats.The twin victories extended BJP’s command to 19 of India’s 29 states.Congress, which has ruled India for much of its history but was thumped by Modi’s BJP in the 2014 national poll, now holds just four states in the world’s largest democracy of 1.25 billion.Modi’s chief rival Rahul Gandhi, who recently replaced his mother Sonia at the helm of Congress, said he “accepts the verdict of the people”.“I thank the people of Gujarat and Himachal with all my heart for the love they showed me,” tweeted Rahul, the sixth member of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty to head Congress.‘Lost ground’The BJP has ruled Gujarat for 22 years-more than half under Modi as state leader.Some experts had forecast a backlash against Modi over unpopular economic reforms that hit Gujarati businesses hard, including a controversial cash ban and roll out of a national goods and services tax.“They have certainly lost a lot of ground, but Congress should have actually won this election, given the anger in the state against the BJP,” political commentator Manisha Priyam told AFP.Rahul made frequent stops at temples while campaigning in the BJP heartland, inviting ridicule from detractors who accused him of trying to lure Hindu voters.Congress, a secular party, gained 17 seats this election, taking its total to 77.Campaigning in Gujarat took ugly turns as the battle intensified.Modi, who thundered from the pulpit at BJP rallies across Gujarat, accused senior Congress figures, including a former prime minister, of colluding with India’s arch rival Pakistan to meddle in the state vote.A Congress party veteran was suspended after using a Hindi slur to describe Modi as low class, remarks the BJP seized to cast Congress as elitist.In declaring victory, BJP chief Amit Shah credited Modi for prevailing over “family politics”-a thinly-veiled sleight against Rahul and the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty that has led Congress for generations.As the results trickled in, BJP supporters danced, threw rose petals and chanted “Long live Modi” in Delhi.“This (victory) was expected… It is a tremendous victory and Modi has come out as the single most popular leader,” BJP supporter Sandeep Kapoor told AFP.India’s Sensex plunged in opening trade Monday but recovered throughout the day as results turned in favour of the BJP.last_img read more

Remington Declares Chapter 11 Amid Trump Slump In Gun Sales

Remington Declares Chapter 11 Amid Trump Slump In Gun Sales

first_img Share Dominick Reuter/AFP/Getty ImagesAmmunition and a Remington Bushmaster rifle are seen at a gun display during a National Rifle Association outdoor sports trade show in 2017 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.Firearms manufacturer Remington Outdoor has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in hopes of staving off creditors amid a slump in sales and public outcry over gun violence.Reuters reports that Remington’s creditors, including Franklin Templeton Investments and JPMorgan Asset Management have agreed to exchange debt for equity in the company.Remington was founded in 1816 in upstate New York and is one of the largest and oldest U.S. producers of firearms. It was bought in 2007 by Cerberus Capital Management for $118 million.Although its financial troubles go back further, in recent months, the company has found itself on the losing end of a phenomenon in which higher gun sales are seen under Democratic presidents, as gun enthusiasts fear greater gun control, and drop under Republicans.For example, firearms sales were brisk under President Obama and in October 2016, when polls showed Hillary Clinton the likely next president, gun sales hit a record, only to drop off precipitously after the election. Industry observers have dubbed the current downturn in sales the “Trump Slump.”According to Bloomberg: “After the Sandy Hook [Connecticut] shooting, Cerberus announced it would sell the company, as its own agitated investors demanded an exit, but it failed to find a buyer.”A Remington-manufactured Bushmaster rifle was used in the school shooting, which killed 20 children and 6 adults.Remington was later sued by the relatives of nine people killed and one who survived the Sandy Hook massacre, but the suit was dismissed by a state Superior Court judge.Remington – which employs 3,500 people — is among the largest makers of guns and ammunition in the country.Another firearms maker, Colt Holdings Co., filed Chapter 11 in 2015.Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.last_img read more

Discovery at Slaves Gravesite Brings Peace to Family

Discovery at Slaves Gravesite Brings Peace to Family

first_imgCROWNSVILLE, Md. (AP) — Two years ago archaeologists uncovered and examined unique stone slave quarters on what was the Belvoir Plantation in Crownsville. Now they think they have found the resting place for some of those who died in bondage there.It might not have come were it not for a tip from a local resident who used to live and work on the property nearly 50 years ago.1936 survey photo of the Belvoir estate (Library of Congress)“I got this call from Rodney Daff who said, ‘We think we know where the slave burial ground is,’” said Julie Schablitsky, chief archaeologist for the Maryland State Highway Administration.“People call all the time saying they have found all these great things. But Rodney took me straight to it.”Rodney recalled seeing the spot when his family served as caretakers on the property and worked a huge strawberry farm in the 1970s.After a little work with a leaf blower on a small promontory in the woods on what remains of the once grand plantation, now owned by a Rockbridge Academy housed in the old plantation house, the evidence emerged.Small stones peeping through the forest floor, two slabs of marble that were likely a gravestone before being broken, and a significant indentation in the ground facing west to east – the common burial practice.Studying the site closer to the stones, some mere nubs of well worn rock, another an obvious slab cracked off just above the ground, lined up in a row. Another smaller line emerged.Another sign the area was of significance are 10 or more cedar trees circling the promontory, now nothing but gnarled and shredded stumps, the tallest about 3 feet.“With all these multiples of evidence… we are scientists, we want proof.”Along with Anne Arundel County’s archaeologist, Jane Cox, a group including descendants of slaves who lived at Belvoir returned to the site two weeks ago.Three cadaver scenting dogs from Bay Area Recovery Canines in Annapolis, who usually work at disaster sites to find people buried in rubble, were brought to the site.One at a time, the dogs circled the perimeter then worked their way toward the middle. All three stopped and laid down at the same spot – the indentation – their signal they have sniffed human decomposition. They signaled at other spots too.“You had to have been there,” said Wanda Watts, a descendant of Belvoir slaves. “To me it was the most exciting thing other than the birth of my son.”“This does not happen for African Americans. Our names were changed, we were scattered,” she said. “African Americans know little of their history, we can only go back one, two, or three generations.”Another descendant, Nancy Daniels, was emotional. “When the dogs did that I said, ‘I am not going to cry, I am not going to cry.’ I was overwhelmed with happiness that they were able to find them.”She knows her people lived there through her genealogical research, which she teaches. “I have the manumission papers that Thomas Burley, my great-great-great-great-grandfather, signed to free his wife and daughter and her five children.”On March 4, 1854, Burley, a free man who worked at a glass factory in Frederick, filed the papers setting them free. He had saved money and bought the freedom for his wife Anne, and daughter, Ellen, a few years earlier from plantation owner George Worthington. That made Burley their owner until he filed the manumission.No one knows whether any of her or Watts’ descendants are buried there. And they may never know unless agreements are made and funding is secured to return for further exploration.Cox and Schablitsky both noted different ways to learn more about who is buried at the site.“There is some testing that can be done without removing any bones. We can learn from coffin hardware when they were buried. We can look at the bones to see their age, sex, any signs of disease.” They could also take seeds found in the grave to determine what kind of flowers were put in the grave.Schablitsky said it is also possible to make connections through DNA science.“If we can take a small piece of bone or a tooth, we can send it to a lab and possibly connect it to a living descendant,” she said.But that’s getting ahead of things.There are no plans to do any further excavation, Schablitsky said. “We are happy with this discovery right now.”But for those whose forbearers toiled in bondage on this land the discovery brings more hope.Daniels was moved to fill a plastic vial of earth from the site during a visit Friday. “I hope to get more. I will put it in my garden,” she said.Watts, who through a lot of work and luck, knows her family was at Belvoir in the 18th Century, was quiet.“There is a feeling of peace now, knowing they were not just tossed away. There was some reverence – they were people.”___Information from: The Capital, http://www.capitalgazette.com/last_img read more

Portal 2 Designed for Danger unofficial expansion includes 8 levels

Portal 2 Designed for Danger unofficial expansion includes 8 levels

first_imgValve is well known for its rather slow release schedule. Games get released when they are ready, and that means there can be multiple years before a sequel to a hit Valve game appears.The Portal games are no exception to that rule. The first was released in October 2007. The second didn’t appear until April 2011. Your guess is as good as mine as to if and when we’ll see a Portal 3, but the good news is you don’t have to wait to play new Portal gameplay.Designed for Danger is an unofficial expansion that is now available to download. Created by level designer Patrick Murphy, the expansion consists of eight brand new levels for the game that forms an entirely new campaign. Playthrough time is expected to be anywhere up to 2 hours, but an experienced Portal player will likely beat it in 60 minutes. There’s also the replay value to add to that.The back story of the new campaign sees you playing as Chell, but with the original story arc twisting early on and setting you, “on a new path through Aperture Laboratories.”The expansion is completely free to download and available as a 92MB archive from Steam Workshop or via a mirror at the Designed for Danger website (link below). If you own Portal 2 it’s well worth a download for some fresh gameplay as you wait for Valve to release a new game, or at least accept you on to that Steam for Linux beta.More at Designed for Danger, via Kotakulast_img read more

Bypoll passes peacefully in Murshidabad

Bypoll passes peacefully in Murshidabad

first_imgKolkata: The by-election in two Assembly constituencies of Murshidabad passed peacefully on Monday. The by-election was held after the seats fell vacant as MLAs from Nowda and Kandi, Abu Taher Khan and Apurba Sarkar, resigned and contested in the Lok Sabha election from Murshidabad and Berhampur respectively. There were no incidents of violence. The voters stood in long queues and exercised their franchise. Congress leaders alleged that Trinamool had influenced the voters and brought them to the polling stations from home. By-election in the Assembly seats of Bhatpara, Islampur, Habibpur (ST) and Darjeeling was held on Sunday. The result of the by-election will be announced on May 23, along with the results of the Lok Sabha polls.last_img read more

Tico brewer avenges Trump comments on immigrants

Tico brewer avenges Trump comments on immigrants

first_imgWhile the fallout, and attention, from billionaire Donald Trump’s derogatory statements about Mexican immigrants continues, one Tico living in the United States is giving Trump the proverbial finger — in liquid form.A few months back, Tico brewer Andrés Araya had agreed to produce a house beer for the bar at Trump’s Chicago hotel.“It was an easy-drinking, summer golden ale,” Araya told The Tico Times in a phone interview. His Chicago brewery, 5 Rabbit Cervecería, finished making 60 barrels of it a few weeks before Trump announced his presidential candidacy.When Araya got wind of Trump’s comments suggesting that most Mexican immigrants are drug traffickers and rapists, he talked to his wife and his Mexican business partner, Champi Garza, and they decided to pull out of the deal with the Trump bar.“We didn’t want to do business with people who make those kinds of statements, which go against everything we believe,” Araya said.Instead, 5 Rabbit took the remaining barrels and offered them to restaurants and bars around Chicago under a new, albeit informal, name: “(Spanish expletive starting with ‘C’) tu pelo,” in reference to the billionaire’s mop.It was a hit; they found buyers in a matter of hours.“The support has been overwhelming,” Araya said.He attributed this, in part, to the fact that so many Latinos work in Chicago restaurants and bars.“Latinos are the backbone of this industry,” he said.Still, Araya said he would have had the same reaction if Trump had been talking about Japanese people or people from any other country.“It’s just bad,” Araya said of Trump’s comments, “no matter who it was directed towards.”The Donald hasn’t backed down from his comments, though he has clarified that he means immigrants who cross the border illegally — not all immigrants — are the ones causing problems.At a speech in Las Vegas on Saturday, Trump brought a man on stage whose son was allegedly killed by an undocumented immigrant.But even Trump’s own people are reportedly distancing themselves from his harsh rhetoric. The head of the Republican National Committee reportedly called Trump recently and asked him to tone it down, according to The Washington Post.Or course, plenty of people agree with Trump. Araya said he and his brewery have received angry calls and emails, accusing them of supporting illegal immigration.“We just ignore them,” he said.In the meantime, if you’re in the Chicago area and want to try 5 Rabbit’s rebranded Trump beer, you better hurry up — Araya said they won’t be making another batch. And they certainly won’t be putting the beer’s revised name on any bottles.“It was just a ridiculous insult to a ridiculous situation,” he said of the beer’s avenging nickname.You can, however, buy a commemorative t-shirt. All profits will go to the International Latino Cultural Center of Chicago. The shirts I designed for @5RabbitBrewery are here! They’ll be available at the brewery starting Thursday pic.twitter.com/u4uRnnM27H— Zach Harris (@birdsandkings) July 9, 2015 Related posts:Costa Rica also tells Donald Trump: ‘You’re fired’ Macy’s is latest company to dump defiant Trump For Mexicans, the Donald Trump candidacy is getting scarier Trump tangles with Latino newsman, launches fresh attacks on GOP rivalscenter_img Facebook Commentslast_img read more

SAfrican government probes Iran bribe allegations

SAfrican government probes Iran bribe allegations

first_imgA Turkish cell phone company, meanwhile, seeks damages from MTN in a civil case filed in the US. Turkcell accuses MTN of bribing officials and bringing other influence to bear to get a license to provide mobile phone service in Iran. MTN has denied Turkcell’s allegations.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Comments   Share   Top Stories The vital role family plays in society Arizona families, Arizona farms: providing the local community with responsibly produced dairy Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debatescenter_img Sponsored Stories New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements JOHANNESBURG (AP) – South Africa’s government says it is investigating allegations its former envoy to Iran accepted payments from a South African cell phone company.The foreign affairs department confirmed in response to a question in parliament Wednesday that it was looking into allegations that the former diplomat, Yusuf Saloojee, accepted money from MTN. Saloojee and MTN deny the allegations.South African police announced separately last month they had opened a probe into allegations MTN paid bribes to secure business in Iran. New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t likelast_img read more